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Day Of The African Child: Bringing The Focus On Street Children In Sierra Leone

Day Of The African Child: Bringing The Focus On Street Children In Sierra Leone

Street Children are any boy or girl who is yet to reach adulthood. Who seeks a livelihood or residence in the street. The demography is growing globally with an estimated one hundred and twenty million (120,000,000) or one in every five children turning to the street. A quarter of them which account for about forty-five million live in Africa and  majority of them are boys and are mostly visible in urban settings across African Countries.

The Day of the African Child (DAC) is commemorated on June 16 every year by all African States. This is done to have a sober reflection on the on the 1976 massacre of South Africa Children by police in an uprising in Soweto South Africa. A Protect against Apartheid by school children resulted in the killing of thousands of those defenseless and unarmed protesters by police officers under the command of the Apartheid Regime then.  After this massacre, people who are committed to the rights of the children saw the need to focus on the rights of children on the continent, in consolidating their efforts in addressing the obstacles for realizing these rights.

The African Child’s Day (DAC) also provides an occasion for Government, International- Institutions and child right organizations to renew their on-going commitments towards improving the plight of marginalized and particularly vulnerable children by organizing activities aimed at including these specific children.

The theme for this year’s 2013 commemoration is ‘’ Estimating Harmful Social and Cultural Practices Affecting Children: our Collective Responsibility’’. This is to draw the world’s attention to the need of eliminating   Harmful Social and Cultural Practice affecting the African Child. The DAC 2013 will help create awareness on the importance of involving children in their own issues and promote togetherness among children from different African country or backgrounds.  It is said that Millions of children will be reached out via electronic media, Special Publications, banners and other promotional materials throughout the continent.

But the question that comes to mind is how does the child fit into all of this? If not all but most of the street children on the continent will be marginalized by this project for the simple fact that most of them are either not educated or do not have access to electronic gadgets like radios. Over the years street children all over Africa especially in Sierra Leone have not been included in the commemoration of the Day of African Child. Is it that the street children are not African Children?

All children have the right to education, protection, health Care and participations in their communities. But this is not in the case of street involved children in Sierra Leone. The street Children in Sierra Leone are always left out of any good thing that is supposed to influence the lives of children in this country.  If all our children feel safe in their communities and go to school; there will be no need for these children to seek refuge in the street.

Governments as the main actor should realized the rights of street involved children through their active participation and build their capacity to protect themselves.  There should also be a national child protection and child welfare system that are sensitive to the right of street children to care and protection and should be adequately funded to operate effectively and efficiently. p

Furthermore, organizations working in rural areas on issues of childhood migration need to link with government and other agencies in urban settings to reduce the level of vulnerability that arise with mobility of street children.

Foundation for Democratic Initiatives and Development Sierra Leone (FDID-SL) a youth serving organization have met with so many gangs of street involved children across Sierra Leone who have registered their disappointment in successive governments for doing little or nothing  to alleviate their plight.

They question they would ask always is ’’ are we not Sierra Leonean children?’’ On the 16th of June FDID-SL met and fed over 40 street children at the Red Pump Community in Freetown. The meeting was very interactive with the children telling their stories to the FDID team and thanking them for throwing light on their plight in the country.  They pleaded with FDID to continue such a good work in advocating on their behalf as they cannot afford to engage and lobby government. The FDID team assured the children that as a grass root oriented organization, they will not stop at anything short of raising awareness of the plight of street children in this country the Communication and Advocacy   Officer declared.

To climax the occasion, food and drinks were served to all the street children that were present to grace the occasion,

Members of the Red Pump Community also thanked the FDID team for quit a beautiful intervention to salvage the problem faced by street children in the country.

BY Hindowa E. Saidu, FDID-SL

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